1556: The fight between “David and Goliath” 

Szigetvár in the 16th century

The death of Bey Naszuf

This story is connected to the first heroic siege of Szigetvár castle that took place in 1556, ten years before the famous siege where Sultan Suleiman and Zrínyi Miklós aka Nikola Zrinski died. 

First, let us recall the death of a famous Ottoman officer from a less known chronicle; his name was Natuf / Nazuf or Naszuf.
It was recorded in the Chronicle of a Renaissance scientist Zsámboky János (1531-1584) who gave a short but exciting account of the 1556 siege of Szigetvár castle in the Latin language in 1588. There are many exciting descriptions of battle scenes in this work, now let us see the story of Bey Naszuf of Koppány Castle. (I am using the Eastern name order for Hungarian names.)

The Bey of Koppány was not an unknown person in contemporary stories. Both Takaró Mihály of Tihany Castle and Magyar Bálint of Fonyód Castle (he used to serve in Szigetvár at a young age) had reported their conflicts with this Ottoman officer. Takaró has written several times about how Naszuf was joshing around him and others from Sziget when he was sending his horses to the fields of Szigetvár to forage, under heavy military guard. We will see why he never answered these challenges: naturally, Naszuf was foraging his horses there to snare the warriors of Sziget out of the fort into a trap: it was the usual trick of the Valiant Order.

Captain Magyar has also reported about several clashes between his men and the raiding soldiers of Naszuf on the southern bank of the Lake Balaton or in Somogy County and we also know how the Bey of Koppány had tried to ambush Fonyód Castle many times, for instance in the autumn of 1555.

an Ottoman warrior

Here is more about Fonyód Castle: https://www.hungarianottomanwars.com/ottoman-occupied-lands/fonyod/

Fonyód castle (Photo: Civertan)

As for Magyar Bálint, here is his life: https://www.hungarianottomanwars.com/essays/magyar-balint-of-palona/

Bey Naszuf was indeed a tough member of the Valiant Order of the Borderland. As you know, the Valiant Order was an informal name for the warriors of both sides, you can find many stories about them on my page. Naszuf was a feared opponent of the Hungarians and the Ottomans regarded him as a hero. When Pasha Khádim Ali of Buda began the siege of Szigetvár during the summer of 1556, it was out of the question that Naszuf was also there as an important officer. It was his last military action.

the siege of Szigetvár

It all happened when the Ottomans launched a very intensive and bloody attack on 21 June and they managed to break into the Old City; the defenders were forced to withdraw into the castle but abruptly they sallied out against the Turks who were in the process of taking up positions in the Old City. The defenders were desperate because they knew very well how important it would be to destroy the Turks’ position in the Old City, it was a death or life question to them. The chronicle of Zsámboky proves this because he writes that the defenders had held an open Holy Mass and took the last rites, receiving the absolution for their sins before they charged out.
The following fight was very bloody and fierce, it was raging for four full hours and the defenders slaughtered 800 Turks, with Bey Naszuf among them.

Zsámboky writes about it quite realistically, saying that Naszuf was like a giant Goliath but his opponent who killed him was just a small Hajdú soldier:
“It was when Bey Nazuf of Koppány died along with some other Beys. Also, Bey Ahmát fell wounded there, hit by a rifle bullet. Agha Veli of the Janissaries was captured alive; 29 heads were cut off and taken into the castle. Of course, all of this hadn’t happened without the damage and the loss of our troops, either.” (Here he lists the more famous defenders, Macedoniai György, Palágyi György, Hagymási János, Hosszútóti János, Székely György – all of them were Hussars – and all of who “had fallen dead along with the voivodes and a few captains of the footmen”. Jakab Radován was wounded there, the hero of the next siege ten years later.)

Szigetvár castle (Photo: Civertan)

“By the way, it must be remarked upon about the Sandjak Bey of Koppány that he was a gigantic man with the boldness of Hercules who was willingly risking his death to achieve the least measure of success. He was never frightened even against ten opponents; but the smallest of the Hajdú soldiers jumped on him unexpectedly like David against Goliath (remark of Szerecz Miklós: with a saber and not with a sling) and thrust his belly with his curved sword, cutting his stomach so much as his entrails were falling out.” It was the sad soldier death of Bey Naszuf.

Other sources also gave an account of the Bey of Koppány, like Somogyi Benedek from Segesd:
“Bey Naszuf has perished in the fight, his head was taken to the castle, his body was buried in Pécs Castle; the Jannissary Agha has perished there, too, but it is not known whether he was taken in alive or killed; other common Turks fell there countlessly, they were seen to have been carried into the camp on wagons.”

Hungarian reenactors

My source was the Hungarian historian, Szerecz Miklós.

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